GREAT-O-KHARN vs. DANNY DUGGAN - 4.25/10
I guess Oka's ring-name got some refining after last night. Kevin Kelly told us that he'll be here in the UK on excursion. They gave them quite a bit of time, and they had a match that was... dull, at times. This Great-O-Kharn gimmick is not good. He's like a 1980's stereotypical Asian gimmick in a North American promotion, but in 2018. And that double Mongolian Chop from the top rope as a finisher is by far the worst finisher around in wrestling today. It looks SOOOOO lame.
YUJI NAGATA vs. SHOTA UMINO - 6/10
Exactly the sort of intense and rough but respectful grumpy old man on young-boy action we all love to see. Um... you know what I mean.
Also, can we talk for a moment about Kevin Kelly noting that the Boston Crab is one of the moves that the "the young lions are allowed to use." We all know what he means, but within kayfabe, this is something that makes no sense (If he hits a piledriver then why would the veterans be angry at him? Because he might hurt his opponent? Isn't that the point? And thus there is no reason to ever bring it up. I absolutely hate when announcers say shooty things in an attempt to be more "real" that make zero sense within kayfabe.
CHAOS (Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI, & Gedo) vs. SUZUKI-GUN (El Desperado, Takashi Iizuka, & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) - DUD! You know what? F*ck it, we're going negative -1/10
Suzuki-Gun jumped the bell on their opponents... and the announcers both just started to laugh at CHAOS for being totally morons and not being ready for this even though Suzuki-Gun did it to them not just last night, but in every match they have. And CHAOS deserves to be laughed at for this. How can the announcers expect me to believe that Gedo is this genius tactician that Kevin Kelly and Don Callis claim he is when he falls for the same trick every time?
The heel announcer asked Kevin Kelly a question I've been asking for years: why does Gedo put up with a cheater like Yano in his group? Kevin Kelly's answer was that Yano is "very popular?" Is he? Well so was Hitler in Germany in the 1930s. That doesn't mean that his misdeeds should be excused.
The match itself was about thirteen minutes of the exact same stupid, tried shtick, especially from Yano, Gedo, and Iizuka... but at this point, I'm including Kanemaru's whiskey bottle and someone going after El Desperado's mask in there, too. There was no point to any of it and no story; they were just doing sh*t to fill out time in a match that went three times as long as it needed to. Iizuka spent at least half of the match biting someone or something, and every time the referee would count to four and then... just keep yelling at Iizuka and not actually do sh*t about it.
Imagine a hockey game where one player got on the ice for the first shift and immediately slashed someone right in front of the referee and the referee said "I'm warning you: if you do that again, I'll call a penalty!" Then, on the player's very next shift, he got on the ice and immediately slashed someone right in front of the referee, and the referee responded by saying "if you do that again I'll call a penalty!" Then, on the player's next shift he gets on the ice and immediately slashes someone right in front of the referee and the referee says "if you do that again I'll call a penalty! And this time I really mean it!" And then, on the player's next shift, he slashes someone right in front of the referee and the referee says "this is your last warning, pal! If you do that again, I'll call a penalty on you!" That's what this was. I am completely baffled that a promotion the size of New Japan or even RevPro would allow this to happen and not immediately fire the wrestler doing the biting and the referee who is destroying the credibility of the promotion. And meanwhile, Kevin Kelly is insisting to me that Kanemaru is spitting real whiskey at people and not just iced tea or something like that because he is so concerned with me thinking that this is all real.
WALTER vs. YUJIRO TAKAHASHI - 6.5/10
They told two stories: WLATER's size advantage and Yujiro working over WALTER's knee. WALTER sold well and got the win.
TAICHI vs. WILL OSPREAY - 5/10
This had the standard "the rules only apply when we want them to" problems. They had a meh match which Taichi won after copious Suzuki-Gun cheating.
RPW UNDISPUTED BRITISH CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
David Starr(c) vs. Tiger Mask IV vs. El Phantasmo vs. Taiji Ishimori - 6.75/10
They had a very fun four-way. Starr cheated to win, pinning Tiger Mask after taking his mask off and kicking him in the nuts. I like that this finish enables Starr to claim that he beat Tiger Mask in a title match and thus have more reason to get upset at RevPro officials when they inevitably give Tiger Mask a rematch.
JAY WHITE vs. KYLE FLETCHER - 7.25/10
They were having a surprisingly good match, with White's exploration of heeldom continuing while Fletcher was a surprisingly good babyface. Unfortunately they seemingly had to cut things short when Fletcher slipped while attempting a moonsault, at which point white just hit him with the Blade Runner and pinned him. Hopefully Fletcher is alright.
ZACK SABRE JR. vs. KAZUCHIKA OADKA - 8.5/10
Kevin Kelly made some over the top dramatic comment about Minoru Suzuki training Zack in "the dark arts," which then gave me the both hilarious and horrifying visual of Minoru Suzuki as a Death Eater.
RPW UNDISPUTED BRITISH HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Tomohiro Ishii(c) vs. Minoru Suzuki - 6.5/10
They were having a great brawl, then decided to ruin it by going on the outside. Suzuki hit Ishii with a chair right in front of the referee, which was not a DQ... but when he went to do so for a second time, this was apparently too much and the referee tried to stop Suzuki from doing so. Suzuki shoved the referee down and then hit Ishii with the chair anyway. Despite the referee not only having instructed him not to do this but also physically tried to prevent him from doing so and Suzuki responding to this intervention by pushing the referee down... this was still not a DQ.
Kevin Kelly then said that the referee should do "anything you can to keep the athletes safe" but then lamented the fact that it's a "fool's errand refereeing a Suzuki-Gun match." NO IT'S NOT! JUST CALL FOR A F*CKING DQ WHEN THEY BREAK THE RULES! It's only a fool's errand if all you're going to do is just stand there impotently and tell them not to cheat when it has been proven time and time again that that won't stop them. If you want to stop someone from breaking the rules, you need to force them to suffer some actual consequences! Instead we've got referees looking like idiots, matches being contested unfairly, and Kevin Kelly coming off like a moron by lamenting that matches are "impossible control" when we've never even seen someone TRY to control the match by the very powers laid out to the referees in the rulebook for the exact purpose of doing so. It's like a doctor telling a patient that a disease is completely incurable without even trying the remedy listed in the textbook.
Kevin Kelly attempted to justify the referee not calling for a DQ by saying that the fans "would run him out of town." Can we please look at the implications of this statement for a moment? The bad guy is cheating, but rather than be angry at the bad guy for cheating, the fans would be angry at the referee for ensuring both the safety of the hero and that the hero does not lose his championship in an unfair match by meting out the proscribed punishment to the heel for violating the rules. And ditto for the argument that "it would kill RevPro's business in Manchester." The fans would rather the company allow the villain to cheat the hero of his title and possibly injured him with a weapon than see the rules enforced? What the f*ck has wrestling come to?
And speaking of the fact that title is on the line in this match, Ishii is the champion, not Suzuki, so you'd think Suzuki would want to be extra careful about getting DQed... but the fact that he is constantly allowed to get away with cheating has created this situation where he is the challenger for a major title, and has absolutely no fear of the consequences of blatantly cheating.
Kevin then stressed the importance to us of "the referee swallowing his whistle" and letting there be "a clear winner and a clear loser" or else the fans and the wrestlers would be furious. Well if that's the case and that's reason that the referee did DQ Suzuki before and hadn't been counting them out, why is he counting them out right now?
I continue to rant on this sort of thing because this segment of the match was so completely at odds with everything else we saw. For example, both before this and after it, Suzuki was always careful to break on four lest he get DQed, but here he has no problem using a chair and shoving the referee? How does that any sense?
They actually did a good job of telling the story of Suzuki working over Ishii's arm for a while, including Ishii even having to sell his arm after every big forearm strike. Then they completely abandoned that as well to do one of their big "take turns hitting each other" strike battles in which Ishii didn't sell his arm at all, despite Suzuki having put it in numerous holds since the time we saw him selling it after every strike. Then they gave up on the arm altogether and built the final few minutes around Suzuki going for the Gotch-Style Piledriver finally hitting it to win.
I really didn't like this booking. I can imagine several reasons why they would want the belt off of Ishii (for example, if this is their last chance to take it off of him before the G1 and NJPW has told them Ishii is going to win and won't be able to do any jobs for a while), but him losing it to Suzuki feels like we're going right back to the dynamic we had with Zack earlier in the year, where we have a Suzuki-Gun member as heel top champion and he's also a tag champ, too. I thought the whole reason they had Ishii take the belt form Zack was to get out of that situation. It seems to me like it would have made a lot more sense to spend the past two months building up a challenger for Ishii who would be able to a more active RevPro guy (even WALTER would have been a good choice even though he's not home-grown because wXw is in the middle of a big break so you'd have him around for a while, during which you could build up someone else to take the belt from him).
All in all, this was a relatively frustrating show from RevPro (and New Japan). The main event was a big let-down, WALTER felt wasted, the undercard was pointless, and while I liked the finish of the four-way, Starr's gimmick has grown grating and I would like to see him drop the belt before the beginning of the fall. After being baffled by RevPro's creative direction for the first few months of the year I thought they had finally found their way again during the May and early June shows, but this weekend- and this show in particular- made that feel like an aberration, as pretty much every title aside from Starr's feels like it is floundering (though with the women's title I don't really blame RevPro because Jinny leaving appeared to have taken them a bit by surprise) and aside from Ospreay vs. Brooks and Bodom vs. Magee, there is nothing going on on the undercard.